The Meaning Behind Common Healthcare Acronyms and Abbreviations

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healthcare acronyms and abbreviationsDozens, if not hundreds, of healthcare acronyms and abbreviations are used throughout the healthcare industry. With so many terms that are being used in healthcare, acronyms and abbreviations have been helpful in keeping the communication among healthcare professionals very manageable. While the majority of them are only used by doctors, pharmacists, and other medical professionals, other healthcare acronyms and abbreviations are relevant to the general public.  

And you know what? By knowing more of the abbreviations and what they mean, there’s likely some savings to be had as well! The more you understand, the more you save.

Related: How I’m Saving $2,400 a Year in Healthcare Costs

The Meaning Behind Common Healthcare Acronyms and Abbreviations

It is important to know and understand some of the most important healthcare terms that are used by many healthcare professionals. Whether you’re a business owner, employee, freelancer, retired, or other, the following healthcare acronyms and abbreviations are important to remember:

1) ACA (Affordable Care Act)

This abbreviation refers to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The ACA:

  • is the most sweeping and significant healthcare reform in the United States
  • was signed into law in 2010
  • is commonly referred to as Obamacare

The ACA has prominent new rules and regulations for the ways in which we administer healthcare and how you can obtain health insurance as a consumer.

2) EHR (Electronic Health Record)

An electronic health record – or EHR – is pretty much what it sounds like.

The digital nature of EHRs:

  • allows for the reliable transfer of patient data across multiple networks and agencies
  • helps to reduce the likelihood of medical errors resulting from incorrect or inaccessible information about a patient

The implementation of EHRs makes it easier for healthcare providers to treat patients by streamlining and standardizing the documentation of personal medical information.

3) HITRUST (Health Information Trust Alliance)

This is an acronym for the Health Information Trust Alliance, an organization created to establish a framework for properly managing sensitive data such as:

  • creation
  • accessibility
  • storage
  • transfer

Data that is protected by regulatory controls has protection under HITRUST as well. Receiving HITRUST certification is standard practice for companies and organizations operating within the healthcare industry. It serves to ensure compliance with the myriad of regulations and standards existing within the healthcare sector.

Related: Is Joining a Healthshare Right For You?

4) HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – or HIPAA – was signed into law in 1996.

Its intent was to:

  • update and improve the ways in which healthcare information was managed
  • introduce new regulations for how personal information should be safeguarded from fraud and theft.

Furthermore, HIPAA created a standardized way in which EHRs are shared and transferred.

5) HMO (Health Maintenance Organization)

A Health Maintenance Organization is a form of health insurance which attempts to lower healthcare costs for individuals by increasing the volume of patients seen by a select group of physicians.

Those who participate in HMO programs can only:

  • be treated by in-network doctors and
  • go to in-network hospitals.

In order to be treated by a specialist, patients under an HMO framework must be referred by their primary care physician.

6) PPO

A Preferred Provider Organization is a form of health insurance which affords more flexibility than an HMO. Those who have insurance through a PPO are able to choose from a wide range of doctors and can be treated by specialists without having to see their primary care physician. While seeing in-network doctors and hospitals is typically more affordable, patients have the option to be treated by those who are out-of-network if they choose.

Healthcare Acronyms and Abbreviations – In Conclusion

Healthcare is an industry we will all have to work with at some point in our lives. While the average person doesn’t need to be well-versed in the majority of healthcare industry jargon and terminology, certain acronyms and abbreviations are relevant enough to know about.

By understanding the meaning behind them, individuals enable themselves to be more informed about the treatment and care they rely on for health and well-being.


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AUTHOR LaTia Longuemire

My name is LaTia Longuemire. I enjoy writing, singing, and cooking in my spare time. My passion is helping others. At this stage in my lifetime, I'm primarily focused on my children. They are everything that keeps my world spinning.

2 Comments

  1. These are helpful but not really useful. How about words like Deductible, co-insurance, out of pocket max, in-network, referral. Knowing how your health insurance works is very important. Odds are someone in your family will have an unexpected surgery, need a prescription or see a specialist during the year. Have savings set aside for your out of pocket expenses so you are not left surprised and broke. Set up a HSA or FSA if you can. Heathcare is not free!

    • Great points, Katie. Sounds like you should be writing articles!! 😉 Thanks for adding to the post.


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